Around 160 million Covid-19 vaccinations have been administered so far worldwide, but most of that has been in the US and Europe. What are the reasons for delay in Asian countries?

In the Asian part of the world, vaccination programs are gradually progressing in places like India, which confirms it has administered around 14 million doses since January. However, in other countries, vaccine programs are either yet to start or are still at a very initial stage. There have been different reasons for this. Some of these have been mentioned below:

In the Philippines, many still recollect the threat around the vaccine Dengvaxia – introduced in 2016 to inoculate against dengue fever. Two years later, it was abruptly deferred due to fears of side effects when some children who received it died.

The country’s health secretary was accused, leading to a massive controversy. Public health officials share that the incident led to an increase of vaccine scepticism that scares to hijack the country’s plans to use the vaccines as a way out of the pandemic.

As observed in a recent survey, just 19% of Filipinos – or one out of five adults – are ready to be inoculated. Also, a bulk of the vaccines themselves is yet to reach in the country.

Pakistan too, witnesses a fear. However, it is chiefly due to misinformation and some viral videos. As one viral video of 2020 showed, a private school teacher is shouting hysterically and gesturing to a group of boys who are apparently passing out. He blames the polio vaccine, saying that the children are “unconscious” and rebukes officials for “forcing” them to administer it. It resulted in a mob burning down a clinic.

Such videos and others like it have resulted in the declining rates of polio vaccination in the country. The outcome has unsurprisingly affected plans to vaccinate the population against the Covid tool. As reported by a doctor in Peshawar, on the first day of the vaccination drive, about 400 health care workers were expected to get the jab, but only around a dozen showed up.

Looking behind the reasons for other Asian countries, vaccine programmes are just getting off the ground. Officials and experts point out that it is caution rather than hesitancy. Many of these countries have been able to control the pandemic in no small extent, and thus they feel they have the luxury of time.

Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Deakin University, was cited by the Associated Press news agency as saying by “waiting”; these nations have been able to get data on things like what occurs in cases of accidental overdosage and how it influences pregnant women without exposing their own populations to the risk.

In South Korea, Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun recapped this when he protected his government’s late rollout. It started vaccinations on 25th February by saying it was purposely done to see how the vaccine had fared elsewhere.

“You know that Koreans are the master of speed,” he said to the BBC’s Laura Bicker in Seoul.

Other nations in the region – Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam – have realized similar comments about the meaning of “waiting” made by officials.

Even though there is a delay, many of them expect to begin vaccinating sincerely.